Life — Cynicism

I’ve mentioned in the past that my entire high school career (and even several months after that) was spent mooning over a girl I never got. I’ve had to learn to deal with solitude and accepting I can’t win every time. But during my time in high school this also turned me into a cynic. My mantra became “Expect the worst and you can’t be disappointed”, which I still think is an acceptable coping method for this sort of thing, but it doesn’t solve any problems.

After several conversations and, admittedly, some tears, I gave up on this girl and went to find peace within myself. I started this blog about a month and a half later and decided that I am no longer allowed to be sad, because nothing in my life is actively corrupting my mood anymore. It had been killing me inside that I wasn’t consistently writing, so I fixed that. I looked at everything in my life that was bringing me negativity, and I cut it out, including some of my own feelings.

I used to think that cynicism and realism were pretty much synonyms. I expected to be let down a lot, so when it happened I was vindicated in a way. But cynicism isn’t realism. Sometimes that line of thinking can make you ‘lose’ before you even start playing. The world is what you make it, and while it will always have ups and downs, your outlook will make it better or worse.

So what my philosophy has turned into “Plan for the worst, but hope for the best”. I try to always be prepared for things not to go my way, and in fact I still expect things not to go my way. But the difference is that these days I don’t let those expectations dictate how I live. If I want to hang out with somebody but I am almost certain they have work or are otherwise busy, I still ask them, because plans may have changed. I don’t let my expectations of the bad ruin the possibility of the good. I’m strong enough to be able to take those blows of disappointment because I’ve prepared for them. Does it make disappointment happen less often? Honestly, I don’t think so. But in the case of rejection, who wins: the optimist or the pessimist? The pessimist says “I knew it”, but the optimist says “Maybe next time”. It may seem like the pessimist ‘wins’, but the optimist will be more willing to try again and perhaps succeed in the future.

I won’t pretend as though it was easy to make this one-eighty degree shift. It took me an entire year to change my outlook, and the fact that it only took a year astounds me. But in any case I had to make the conscious decision to say “I will no longer be so cynical”. It’s a handicap. It doesn’t help you, and oftentimes it can make your life harder than it needs to be. Life can already be pretty challenging. Anybody can say you can’t. Don’t let anybody say you don’t. Especially not yourself.

A lot of people will try to put you down in life. Don’t let yourself be one of them.

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